- After shamelessly neglecting this blog for well over a month – and what a month it has been for cycling thoughts and exploits – I return to the fold of the online printed page glaring whitely from my screen hungry for the words that filter through my fingertips as they dance upon the keyboard. Now I could claim that my dalliance with twitter has stolen the minutes and hours I would normally devote to these idle musings, or that perhaps work had impinged so much upon my will to create that my thoughts had shrivelled up like so many raisins suitable only for twitter, rather than a luscious bunch of grapes, that once pressed, fermented and bottled become a luscious liquid bubbling with intoxification – and this would be in part true – but really post Parisian exploits (due to be written and planted here) I have been rather cycled out.This is not to say that I have stopped pedalling the chrome horse about town – oh no no no. I was back on the steel steed the very next day I returned from Paris. Just that my will to contribute to things related to two wheels had been somewhat sated of late and therefore my virtual quill was resting in its ink pot.
However the past two days have seen such a remarkable set of occurrences that I feel impelled to write and recount these (mis)adventures.
In the grand scheme of things, the troubles I will relate will seem paltry compared to the BP oil incident, Guatemalan sinkholes or Chinese flooding – in fact to compare them to such events would be nothing short of wrong and pigheaded. Still they have caused more than a little upset and bemusement from this here rider, and so as my duty to a public which reads out of a loyalty caused by boredom or obligation forthwith are my tales…
The curious case of the copper nail (1.5”)
For those who know me, they will be aware that the previous week had been one filled with stress, long hours and general bewilderment about general goings on – be this life personal or life work – and that this week which draws to a close (which will see me shortly in sunny Ital-l-l-l-ly) should have been much less of a bumpy ride.
However Wednesday saw the beginning of an unsteady journey…leaving home late after a fond farewell to my lady who had returned to the land from whence she came (only temporarily fortunately) I footled on down my accustomed route from Green to Hall, only to hear a sharp “phhhhsssssssssssssssssssssh” as I tackled the ramshackled conditions of Northampton Rd (EC1) – the quietest street in town for traffic of all kinds but in the most remarkable of settings but for the truly awfulness of the road.
I reined in Pashers who was beginning to limp on his rear fetlock and regarded the damage of what appeared to be copper tack (with bent head) peeping from his cream Schwalbe tyre. A gentle yank did no good for the head would not be budged from a vertical approach. As the tyre wheezed and whistled in an increasingly deflated manner, I tried a horizontal approach. Great gusts of stale air billowed and soon Pashers’ rim was resting squarely on the ground as I continued to pull a never ending nail out.
Had this mishap been caused by a baby tack I would have been irked, no doubt I would have uttered a blue word or three and possibly thrown something in disgust. However there resting in my palm was an inch and a half length of copper, gleaming with innocence. It is hard to be angered when such a remarkable thing happens. And so stoically I re-shoed my steed, pumped his flagging spirits with my pocket rocket, deposited the offending item in my bag and galloped off to work, amazed that such a nail could penetrate at such an angle – and so deeply.
Pistol shot rings out on the other side of town
Again this morning I left at what can be described as a late hour. Exhaustion has been playing the very devil with my sleeping habits, but also rising a little saddened and nostalgic for my accustomed companion, I only half heartedly prepared for the day ahead, meaning I left as I should have been arriving. Ho hum…
Now for those of you who know the Holloways that are the London cyclists shortcuts through the estates and busy byways, then you will perhaps be familiar with that wonderful bit of urban planning that will see the cyclist skip off the Essex Rd and scoot along Colebrooke Row, cross over City and Goswell Roads onto Owen St, which then spits you out onto St John St from where the cyclist can mosey along behind Saddlers Wells down Arlington Way onto Rosebery Avenue or continue down St Johns.
Now as Owen spat me out onto John, Pashers eased himself into the middle of the road…BANG…a pistol shot rang out startling pigeons and butchers from their morning cigarettes. Pashers shuddered in fright and then just let himself shamefully go – disgracing himself with a rapid release from his rear tyre (again). As you can see from the rubbish picture of the inner, this was a proper blowout – my first one and undoubtedly due to a topping up of pressure before I set out in the morning. Clearly one should not pump to the maximum recommended PSI…
Having reassured the butcher that it was merely my bike and I which had caused such a stir (amazing how he was the only fellow to show concern – my cycling brethren just carried on in their summer flood), pushing the limping chap down the street I thought how fortunate it was that Bobbin Cycles was round the shop. As I patted Pashers’ saddle in appreciation for his foresight I approached the shop with something of a relieved smile planted on my bearded chops.
Bobbin however was not playing ball, but was instead closed not to open until 11am. What sort of bike shop opens at 11? I tell you – one of those poncy sort of bike shops populated solely with trendy cool bicycles that litter the streets of East London. Admittedly it has nice things – things that I would like – were they not over priced – but that opening hour grates and speaks of a bespoke shop which does not understand the needs of your everyday cyclist – rather the summer wheeler who gambols about on the town’s streets solely between May and September, after which they leave their majestic machine in the hall / garden shed / garage for the cold winter months – where it will pine for a loving owner who will take them for a ride.
Anyway…with an exploded inner it was with a forlorn attempt that I did try to patch it (I had no more spare inners). The patch stuck…it took the air the tyre rose and with it my hopes…and then a wet fart of a noise issued out and I knew that I must tread the streets in search for a place of repair.
The weary tread of the defeated cyclist can only be worsened by rain – this was not evident fortunately – but still mile plus slog from Angel to Blackfriars Bridge and a shop selling 700 x 38b inners was long and distressing but ultimately a good lesson never to over pump my tyres again.
With the new inner in, I tentatively pedalled off to work, tentatively testing my new tyre like a newly born foal trying its first steps…soon I was off and only arrived two late to work…
Now I wonder what will be the third trouble to afflict my humble steed…there is great potential for a problem to happen tonight as I travel across town, but I will keep fingers crossed and touching wood will pray that all will not go amiss this evening or in days ahead…
NB On trip to the theatre encountered the third blow out. I am going to blame Specialized inners, as I never encountered this problem with Schwalbe inners. Needless to say by the time everything was sorted the play had long started – grrr!